The first thing to note to see if you meet the Social Security qualifications for retirement benefits is that you must have contributed taxes towards Social Security in order to qualify for benefits. This money that you pay (in the form of taxes) converts into “units” that are used to calculate how much you’ll be able to get once you apply for retirement. You need to have worked for at least 10 years (the equivalent of about 40 credits) in order to be able to receive retirement benefits.

At what age you plan on retiring at also determines how much you’ll receive. You can apply as early as age 62, but the full retirement age is between 65 and 67, depending on what year you were born. If you decide you don’t want to retire at 62 or when you reach your full retirement age, you can delay the credits, at the latest, until age 70. You can check here to see what your full retirement age is.

Be aware that if you’re applying for retirement prior to the full retirement age, you will be paid less in benefits than if you were to wait until your full retirement age. Conversely, if you delayed your credits to after your full retirement age, you would receive more.

In addition, if you are married you may also apply through your spouse if your spouse applies for Social Security as well. These are called spousal benefits, and there are a number of ways to qualify and the amount you receive through your spouse (or vice versa) depends on how much your spouse is receiving.

Your spouse or your children can get spousal benefits if you were to pass away after you apply for retirement. For more detailed information on spousal benefits and survivor benefits, visit the official Social Security page.

Any money you earn from Social Security benefits may also be subject to taxes. Depending on how much you receive and whether or not you have additional sources of income, you may have to pay taxes on your earnings. Make sure to consult with your accountant if you’re not sure whether or not you’ll be liable for taxes on your Social Security.

Read on for how to apply for retirement benefits.

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